Vancouver Skiers’ love letter to Methow Valley, Washington State X-C Ski area near Winthrop, Washington. Five ways we love you.
Dear Methow Valley,
Your name (so elegant, like The Met, and ‘ow’ like an après-ski-fall) is the site of North America’s largest Nordic skiing area. Your 200 kms (120 miles) of daily-groomed trails celebrates its 40th anniversary and offers three main ski areas: Mazama, Sun Mountain and Rendezvous Trail Systems.
For Vancouver Skiers’ club from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, you’re this year’s ‘big trip’. We had plenty of flexibility to ski-romp any which way we liked with you. Up or down, fast or slow, skate or classic.
Gotta love that. But I wondered if you’d leave us enough energy to survive five consecutive ski days, LOL.
Under Vancouver Skiers’ leadership of Fred Peters and Dawn Wimbles and with Kevin’s professional driving, decision-making seemed effortless. Members appreciated the time and care taken to make it so. Dawn and Fred thanked the Club Executive who had a hand (and a ski glove) in the planning.
The first night was spent at the Best Western, Osoyoos after classic skiing China Ridge’s 20-kilometers of slopes, overlooking Princeton’s Similkameen-and-Tulameen-Valley and the Coquihalla-Mountain-Range vistas. We skied some version (or diversion) of Ridge Trail.
We pizza’d and hors d’oeuvre’d. Some went out for supper. After sunny skies and (just) below-zero temps on a skiff of new snow, some were getting ready to meet you. Others were ready to fall in love all over again.
The whole trip boasted good weather with light wind, until the day we left you, when the sky saddened. We sniffled.
How you ski-enticed us from Okanagan Country to Okanogan County, known for over 3000 years as an Interior Salish nation. “People living where you can see the top” is its suggested meaning.
Day Two, we left Osoyoos to cross-border and declare to you that we came peaceably. We weren’t hiding firearms or fresh vegetables/fruit—just Nordic ski-fire in our veins. We arrived at Loup Loup’s South Summit at 4000-feet and had the incredible luck of freshly-groomed tracks #1-10.
Once at Winthrop Inn, we opted for dinners out and in, given the microwave ovens and fridges in our rooms and a grocery store next door…PLUS a Pony Expresso drive-through coffee shop. The hot tub was a hot-hub. Skiers rose and fell like pistons to foil ‘water overflow’. Restaurants were within easy walking distance although we had the luxury of a bus ‘taxi ride’ two of the four nights.
A few of our ‘mature’ skiers got a three-day pass as skiing in the Methow is community-supported by 1200 businesses, with a ‘Trails for Life’ mission statement. It’s free for under-17s and over-75s, and the Canadian dollar is at par. We love your respect for youth, pocketbooks and…Senor & Senora Tenure!
The Mazama Community Trail (MCT) runs 30 kms or eighteen miles from Winthrop to Mazama via Brown’s Farm where the Brown family have opened a winter-wing of their home for skiers to relax over hot drinks or soup. This proved a halfway haven for Vancouver Skiers.
Local skier pass holders couldn’t have been more helpful in guiding and encouraging us. Trail conditions were typically spring-like. We tuf-loved the odd leaf or pine needle that demanded we ‘slow down,’ between North Cascades National Park and State Game Range and Wilderness Area.
Winthrop, Washington boasts the oldest legal saloon in Washington State and their craft beer and cider are par none. Vancouver Skiers hydrated sufficiently to maintain an Old West swagger to match the town’s architecture.
Native Americans established a hunter-gatherer culture along the Methow, Twisp and Chewuch rivers and in the 1860s, fur traders, gold panners, settlers and adventurers like Guy Waring and Theodore Winthrop built the town. It was restored in Wild West style in 1972.
We loved your Mazama General Store homegrown treats and crafts.
Winthrop’s restaurants are named Old Schoolhouse Brewery, Arrowleaf Bistro, East 20 Pizza, Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon (Kevin’s fave), Methow Valley Ciderhouse, Copper Glance (CG) and Carlos 1800 Mexican Grill and Cantina. Some dined so well, they wouldn’t let on the name of the establishment. Some skiers took a day off to explore gift shops, deli and bakery.
Thanks to the 175 families who share easements onto the Methow trail system (25 conserve hundreds of acres on their own properties). The non-profit society covers 7,603,200 inches of x-c skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking.
Do we dare convert that to loving-it centimeters? It adds up to a whole community of love. Five days? No problem!
Submit your own love story/letter to the Methow Conservancy at www.methowconservancy.org.
Xoxoxoxoxo, Vancouver Skiers
ps For a Van. Skiers’ article featuring The 2016 Rocky Mountain Tour: http://www.seniorlivingmag.com/articles/2017/01/nordic-xc-skiing-in-five-easy-strides